Franklin County recently gained a new venue for outdoor activity with the opening of the Five or Better Archery Range in the Winchester City Park.
The range, which is located behind the campground on the City Park property, was founded by Trenton Adams, a resident of Estill Springs who wanted to fill what he saw as a void of archery clubs in the area. He said that he is incredibly thankful to Winchester for being able to utilize the property.
The name of the range originates from a phrase that Adams heard one day from a fellow competitor while he was at an archery event in South Alabama.
“We’re all in the woods, and you can hear him off in the distance and he’d yell, ‘Five or better!’” Adams said. “I got up and I talked to him and he’s like, ‘You know, I just love coming out to shoot. If I hit the target, I’m happy. I’m not worried about trying to get the best score, I’m just out to have fun.’”
Adams said this attitude is part of what he wanted to bring to Franklin County with the Five or Better range.
“You don’t want to miss. We’re just looking for a five or better. Just hit the target and have fun,” he said.
Five or Better is one of 16 active ASA clubs in Tennessee which includes a partnership with Scholastic 3D Archery.
While most people who are somewhat familiar with archery might think of a line of bullseyes when they picture the sport, Five or Better provides a different form of the activity, referred to as 3D archery.
“Typically, you’ll see a lot of the Olympic shooters or you’ll see a lot of 4-H programs where you shoot at a bullseye. It’s a multi-colored bullseye and as you get closer to the center, the score goes up,” Adams said, referring to traditional versions of archery. “(The ASA) started up 3D archery where it’s a three-dimensional foam animal with scoring rings and they’re placed in real-world situations at different distances, and it’s for all age groups.”
Instead of a single circular target, the scoring areas for 3D archery are detailed rings molded into the contours of the foam animals. Potential scores per shot can range from 5 to 14 depending on what scoring ring the arrows comes to rest in.
The animals present in the range include both native species and those from around the world.
“I have 20 3D targets. They’re different animals from domestic white-tailed deer to blesboks from Africa and warthogs,” Adams said. “I place every single one of them, and I place them all at different distances and safe increments throughout the woods or the field.”
Adams said that one of his goals for the range is to break the stigma of archery being viewed as a solitary experience, and he added that early events on the course have shown a lot of camaraderie.
It’s actually a blast. It’s so much fun. Everybody kind of toys with each other, and then on the other side, if someone’s doing really well, everybody is for that person,” he said. “It’s not like most sports where you get after each other or you’re really competing so you’re not nice to each other. It’s full support.”
Adams said that another critical aspect of the range is getting children involved in a sport that they might find enjoyment in.
“These kids are starting to pick up bows really early, and then they just find a real love for shooting a bow,” he said. “It’s not like guns or anything like that where you expend ammunition. The same six arrows can last an 8-year old for a year and a half to two years. They just keep shooting and shooting them. You can go out in the yard with nobody around and really just enjoy shooting the equipment.”
Adams added that archery could open the door to college scholarships for those who might normally not be able to make it to that level.
Children ages 9 and younger shoot for free at Five or Better’s monthly events with all others paying $20 to compete. Money from the entry fees goes into the prize pools for the events.
Five or Better will also be hosting state qualifiers on Feb. 18-19 and May 27-28 for the ASA.
“We have a state federation of the Archery Shooters Association. People who live in Tennessee that like to shoot their bow, they can come and shoot a qualifier,” Adams said. “The qualifier is their ticket into the state championship. You just need to shoot one qualifier and then you can go to the state championship.”
Adams added that there are more than 40 different classes for the state championship to account for age and skill differences.
The calendar of events for the Five or Better range culminates in the local Shooter of the Year championship on July 23-24 with the prize pool being built up over the course of the year.
The next event for the Five or Better range will be this Saturday and Sunday. For more information on the range and times and dates for events, visit the Five or Better Archery Facebook page.